disclaimer: I claim no ownership over any of the characters contained within. This story is written for fun, not profit.
notes: This story contains content of a homoerotic nature. Please be aware of this before reading. This piece was originally written in response to a drabble collection challenge for tempsmort at livejournal.
When they've set camp in the woods or a clearing, anywhere there isn't some form of life Sokka can fight against, he takes to the trees and runs through every exercise he knows. Relearns punching, rolling, ducking, the quick slice of a leg out along the ground.
(Katara says, exasperated, when he comes back sweaty and relaxed, "What are you doing, fighting the trees?")
Sokka remembers the ease with which the Firebender has defeated him time and again: casual, uninterested. Remembers that half-second back at the village when he had noticed Sokka; wants those eyes to recognize him, Sokka, again.
In the next town, their third day, Sokka meets a boy his age, all bright eyes and nervous intent. Sokka wouldn't even have noticed him if the boy hadn't caught his sleeve, saying, "Hello."
"Hi," Sokka says, when he's sure the boy isn't really talking to someone else. "Uh. I'm Sokka?"
The boy kisses him and Sokka jerks back so fast he cracks his head against the door frame.
"Oh," the boy says, turning red and stepping back. "Sorry."
Sokka holds his head and thinks, Northerners, because now something is crawling in his gut, something he's only vaguely aware of.
He's only noticing now that Katara is changing. She sits near the front at night, talking in soft tones to Aang, and when Sokka looks at her he sees momentary reflections of their mother. It's unsettling, too, listening to her, and Aang, whispering and talking and building their own intricate little world together.
Sokka feels the odd one out. Then he thinks: I'm changing, too.
And he is, in ways expected and others, too feeling a certain, gnawing tightness in his gut when he thinks of the Firebender; the next time he'll fight him; yellow eyes and a red scar.
The Firebender nearly breaks his arm. Sokka swears, and clenches his teeth when the Firebender grabs him by the collar and brings their faces close.
"Where," he enunciates, voice snapping, "is the Avatar?"
Just as carefully, struggling against the Firebender's grip and staring as brazenly as he can into his eyes, Sokka says: "Up yours."
The Firebender's good eye narrows and releasing his collar, he strikes Sokka in the crux of his ribs; Sokka crumples, wheezing, and watches the Firebender stalk away.
He clutches his arm and breathes out, once; twice. Then, weaving, he stands and heads the other way.
"You idiot," Katara says. She packs ice in a length of cloth and wraps it around his arm.
"I know," Sokka winces. "I'm an idiot, okay?"
"What if you get yourself killed?" she demands. "What am I supposed to do, bury you and move on?"
"Isn't that what people normally do?"
Katara punches his arm.
Aang looks up from scratching Momo's belly. "Katara's right," he says.
Sokka snorts. "He wasn't even after me," he points out, and the words hang in the air like barbs.
Aang draws into himself.
"We're all here, still," Katara says, into the silence.
The hot spring is a minor miracle. Sokka sinks into it and groans, massaging the mottled bruise black on his arm and rolling his head back; the heat races through his muscles.
God, he thinks, and then, Heaven. He closes his eyes.
He just floats, for a minute, two, relaxing and stretching and ignoring even the pain of his arm moving. "You can't take this," he says to the memory of the Firebender; and then catches his breath.
Too hot, he thinks suddenly. It's too hot. His gut is twisting and he takes another breath, feeling heat between his legs.
He thinks, briefly, once, of the boy who kissed him and wonders why. Why Sokka?
Why a boy?
It isn't the boy himself that sticks in Sokka's mind at night, staring out across the world flashing beneath them. It's the thought of boys' mouths on other boys, and why he can't seem to push aside something he's always known peripherally.
He wonders, why, and feels that creeping heat flush in his gut, like a small and flickering fire; thinks absently of fire, fire as art and weapon, eroticism; the Firebender.
Sokka stares at the world moving below, his belly burning.
They come to a small village hidden in the trees and Katara trades for rooms, bringing out beads and trinkets from the other side of the mountain. Sokka heads for the trees, stripping his coat and thick furs for the under-layer.
In the woods he lashes out at his imaginations: fighting again and again the recollection of the Firebender; sweating and breathing heavily as he strikes out; pushing and pushing until he rests back against a tree, sliding to the earth.
His muscles feel like fire.
In his room, he collapses on the bed and breathes out through his teeth.
Sokka dreams of: blood and fists, twisting and bucking in the mud as he and the Firebender fight, every muscle in his body hot with movement; the paler tone of the Firebender's skin and the red scar livid, flashing between movements; the knowing, suddenly, that it isn't fighting, or it is, only not the fighting Sokka has imagined. Violent and obsessive and deeply, desperately needy, with his tongue and the Firebender's rough against each other, twining together; a hot mouth low on his belly, teeth scraping skin, pale on dark. Everywhere the sensation of fire: burning, thick, rolling through him.
Sokka wakes up aching so hard it feels like everything's centered between his legs.
For a moment he can't even see straight and then he remembers where he is, notices in an abstract sense that it must be night and he must have been dreaming, and then the only thing he can think of is the dream: heat, fire, a red scar burning his vision as he fucked into that mouth.
Sokka swears, and slides his hand between his legs, closes his eyes so tight he sees stars; thinks of nothing until he comes, hot and gasping, into his hand.